When the British evacuated Florida,
Spanish colonists as well as settlers from the newly formed
United States came pouring in. Many of the new residents
were lured by favorable Spanish terms for acquiring property,
called land grants. Others who came were escaped slaves,
trying to reach a place where their U.S. masters had no
authority and effectively could not reach them. Instead
of becoming more Spanish, Florida increasingly became more "American." Finally,
after several official and unofficial U.S. military expeditions
into the territory, Spain formally ceded Florida to the
United States in 1821, according to terms of the Adams-On's
On one of those military operations, in 1818, General
Andrew Jackson made a foray into Florida. Jackson's battles
with Florida's Indian people later would be called the
First Seminole War.
Andrew Jackson returned to Florida in 1821 to establish
a new territorial government on behalf of the United States.
What the U.S. inherited was a wilderness sparsely dotted
with settlements of native Indian people, African Americans,
As a territory of the United States, Florida was particularly
attractive to people from the older Southern plantation
areas of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, who arrived
in considerable numbers. After territorial status was granted,
the two Floridas were merged into one entity with a new
capital city in Tallahassee. Established in 1824, Tallahassee
was chosen because it was halfway between the existing
governmental centers of St. Augustine and Pensacola.
As Florida's population increased through immigration,
so did pressure on the federal government to remove the
Indian people from their lands. The Indian population was
made up of several groups'primarily, the Creek and the
Miccosukee people; and many African American refugees lived
with the Indians. Indian removal was popular with white
settlers because the native people occupied lands that
white people wanted and because their communities often
provided a sanctuary for runaway slaves from northern states.
Under President Andrew Jackson, the U.S. government spent
$20 million and the lives of many U.S. soldiers, Indian
people, and U.S. citizens to force the removal of the Seminoles.
In the end, the outcome was not as the federal government
had planned. Some Indians migrated "voluntarily." Some
were captured and sent west under military guard; and others
escaped into the Everglades, where they made a life for
themselves away from contact with whites.
By 1840 white Floridians were concentrating on developing
the territory and gaining statehood. The population had
reached 54,477 people, with African American slaves making
up almost one-half of the population. Steamboat navigation
was well established on the Apalachicola and St. Johns
Rivers, and railroads were planned.
Florida now was divided informally into three areas: East
Florida, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Suwannee River;
Middle Florida, between the Suwannee and the Apalachicola
Rivers; and West Florida, from the Apalachicola to the
Perdido River. The southern area of the territory (south
of present-day Gainesville) was sparsely settled by whites.
The territory's economy was based on agriculture. Plantations
were concentrated in Middle Florida, and their owners established
the political tone for all of Florida until after the Civil
Text from: A Short History of Florida
Used with the permission of Florida's Division of Historical